Seasons of love flow and change, following the pattern of nature. I gaze now at the barren, white expanse of our Wisconsin fields. The black, craggy branches completely bare of leaves, creaking coldly in the wind. The icy stream cutting through the gray, dirty landscape. My marriage began one hot, sultry summer day, but I now think on the moments of bleakness. The misunderstandings, the cold shoulders, and staring at my husband as if he was from an alien planet. Keys locked in cars, bills forgotten, winter moments of life. Piles of snow reminiscent of the issues to be shoveled through in marriage.
A bit of green pushing up through the earth, surprises, birth of babies, new beginnings have sprung as spring in my marriage. We gazed amazed at our first home bought together, ignoring the ramshackle state, DIY piles, and hours of work that lay ahead. It didn’t matter because hope springs eternal. The beauty of a bouquet of flowers, a kind text, an encouraging word, and a hug have kept newness alive in our hearts. A common goal, faith, and sense of purpose, living our country life and raising a family have strengthened us in moments of weakness.
The plowing, sowing and the hours of weeding, pruning, and cultivating seem worth it for the harvest in a garden. Joy does indeed come in the morning. Summer sunlight breaking through. Back to that hot September day, when we pledged through all of life’s seasons we would stick together, we couldn’t have known truly what a sacrifice it would be to make that daily choice. A choice of wiping the sweat off of illness, financial pressures, and humid blasts of family issues. The delight yet exhaustion from new life, new jobs, the lack of sleep or rest.
Relationships are extremely hard work. They need constant attention. It’s easy to let the leaves of life to fall, shifting and slowly drifting down, not noticing the pile of offenses creeping ever taller. The autumn winds rattle and shake the windows of our family home, and one must notice these things before they become cracks in the foundation, warmth lost, a wisp in the cooling air.
I confess that I am unashamedly old-fashioned in my view of my marriage. I’m committed to it. No matter the winds that buffet it, no matter the hard rains we face, I choose to stick it out today, tomorrow, until death do us part. I believe anything beautiful and true takes hard work and sacrifice. Just look at the cathedrals, beautiful gardens, and greatest inventions. They all have one thing in common. A stark, shear, almost mad perseverance.
I often say harsh words to my husband, I lack compassion, or am neglectful, yet he still chooses to love me. He forgets, gets busy, and misunderstands. Yet, without us choosing to forgive, what good would we see built? I realize that there are extremely hard circumstances which many find themselves in and we can’t begin to understand the reasons so many relationships end. All I know is my own, and barely at that. I take it one moment, one sown seed at a time, believing that we will reap a continued harvest of a life of togetherness.
Yes, togetherness. That’s the word. Notice I didn’t say bliss or life of romance. The truth truly is that those are small bits that flash out now and again, but the real love comes in the ugly yet beautiful mundane. This is the stuff unwritten and outside the film frame. The cleaning up after sickness, the hot angry tears, the dropping everything to run that annoying errand, and the letting go. It’s the countless bags of garbage taken out, the meals and dishes, it’s the faithful punching the clock to pay bills.
These are the cyclical seasons of true romance. When you change those sheets, fix that door knob, or stretch out an arm to steady someone. It’s the darkness, smells, and frustrations that spell and create a true togetherness. The anticipation of the changing seasons is one my very favorite parts about where I live, and just maybe I can approach each and every one in marriage with gratitude. Gratitude that I’m being shaped and honed through this relationship in a way that none other can. So cheers to soon-to-be 15 years, and Lord-willing, many more.